By Beth Treffeisen
Back Bay resident Liz Brunner, the CEO and founder of Brunner Communications, and award-winning television news anchor and reporter is to be honored at the YW Boston, Academy of Women Achievers – Unstoppable Women of Changing Boston event.
YW Boston will recognize and honor some of Boston’s brightest, boldest, bravest and most influential women during the 22nd annual awards luncheon at the Park Plaza on Monday, June 26.
All proceeds support YW Boston’s program to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.
Over the last ten years, Brunner has been the Emcee of this program. This year, the role has been turned and she will be one of five women honored.
“I was asked to be on the other side of the coin this year and I am very honored and humbled for that,” said Brunner. “I know the women who were honored before me and they’re all very accomplished. I am honored to be included.”
Sylvia Ferrell-Jones the President and CEO of YW Boston said, “She has been here longer than I have and has been a longstanding partner in this program.”
The Emcee at this year’s event will be Latoyia Edwards, anchor at NBC Boston. Other honorees will include Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO at Boston Children’s Hospital, Dr. Beverly Edgehill, VP, Organizational Development at TJX Companies, Inc., Rebecca A. Lee, Member of Mintz, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. and Valerie Mosley, Chairwoman and CEO at Valmo Ventures.
Student participants from YW Boston’s Youth Leadership Initiative (InIt) will introduce each honoree.
InIt provides high school students with social justice education and training. Over the course of this ten-month program students design and execute their own community projects.
YW Boston has been a leader in building a better Boston for all since 1866, when it was founded as the first YWCA in the nation. Today, YW Boston serves over 3,000 Bostonians with programs that educate and empower people across racial, gender, class, and organizational lines.
“YW Boston is a social justice organization and has been at the cutting edge of women and people of color’s rights since the start,” said Ferrell-Jones. “We think it is a pretty lofty goal but we achieve it through our programs.”
Programming that the YW offers includes Dialogues on Race and Ethnicity, Girl’s Health, Women’s Health and Wellness, LeadBoston, Youth Leadership Initiative and Youth/ Police Dialogues.
“Our objective is to handle gender inequality and social equity in the city of Boston,” said Ferrell-Jones.
Brunner comes from a very eclectic background. She was born in Hartford, Connecticut and was raised along with her three younger brothers in Hawaii and
With her father being a minister, music and singing in the choir was always a part of her life. “I never gave it a second thought,” said Brunner. “I was always into music.”
Brunner attended and earned a Bachelor of Music Degree from Lawrence University’s Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin. Upon graduation she went on to be a music teacher.
“After a couple of years of teaching music I felt like there was something more I supposed to do,” said Brunner. “But I didn’t know what.”
She went on to working in retail for a few years. During that time, she also did a commercial for a Pontiac Grand Prix that she won during her period in the Miss America Pageant as Miss Illinois in 1979. Afterwards she thought, “What can I do in T.V.?”
She quickly went on the search for informational interviews with network television stations.
In 1985 Brunner got her first job in television at the CBS affiliate WCIA-TV in Illinois. She worked, as the community relations coordinator for three years, were she served as the liaison between the television station and the community.
Quickly moving up the ranks she also took on hosting a talk show covering local organizations serving the community and served on a three women weather team.
Afterwards, Brunner joined WTVT-TV, Tampa Bay’s CBS affiliate at the time as the director of community relations. Within a year, Brunner was tapped as co-anchor of the early morning news, on top of her initial job.
“I was only in my late 20’s and early 30’s at the time and I did a lot of listening back then,” said Brunner. “I worked hard on how to be seen, heard and have a voice at the table.”
After five years in Florida, Brunner was hired by WCVB-TV, Channel 5 the ABC affiliate in Boston as correspondent and fill-in anchor for the nightly news magazine show, Chronicle. Within a year, Brunner also became co-anchor for the EyeOpener newscast and health reporter at Channel 5.
“When I was there it was rated the number one news cast,” said Brunner. “I got the opportunity to do some amazing, in-depth, stories. I got the chance to be a high school teacher, to having a 28-year career in broadcast journalism – I am very fortunate.”
Brunner left WCVB-TV in October 2013 and has launched Brunner Communications a firm that specializes in media training and consulting for high-profile individuals and organizations. She works with clients on a range of topics from presentation, public speaking, brand imaging, media training, conference calls and web content.
But she said, most of her time is spent taking boring research, statistics, and data and transforming it into a story that people can relate to and understand.
“All of it has been an exciting next chapter for me,” said Brunner. “I get to travel all over the country and meet with people.”
After living in Boston for over 22 years, Brunner said, “This is my hometown and my home city.”
Brunner, whose family has been involved with the YW for generations, said she supports the work that they’re doing.
“I take a great interest in helping women succeed because it is not easy,” said Brunner. “I whole heartily support the work and the mission the YW has been doing.”
Ferrell-Jones looks forward to the luncheon to honor, amazing and brilliant women who are leading the way in Boston this upcoming Monday. For Back Bay resident Liz Brunner she is excited to finally see her get honored for her work.
“I think Liz is a super star,” said Ferrell-Jones. “I think she’s one of the most talented people in Boston network television has seen and I’ve been in the City for 23 years now!”